A health outreach by a visiting U.S. medical team conducting free cataract surgery, has revealed a high prevalence of the condition in Ashanti and Bono East Regions
Over 500 people, most of whom cannot afford the cost of treatment, are taking advantage of the exercise to undergo treatment at the Seventh-Day Adventist Hospitals at Asamang and Techiman.
The U.S. team of experts from Loma Linda is in Ghana through the collaboration of two American organisations and the Adventist Health Services.
They are United Service to Africa and Anachans Community Centre.
Nearly 300 people have already received attention, including surgery and supply of spectacles.
Leader of the team, Dr. Kwame Agyemang says the team is targeting over 500 patients with eye defects.
“We need more people. So far, I think we have registered 300 patients that are already scheduled or booked foe surgeries. We just want people to come.”
Dr. Agyemang who is also President of United Service to Africa, is not only passionate about the mission but happy to see patients see again through the efforts of the team.
“The reason why we became so passionate about the mission trip was, for some of us, we have suffered personal tragedies that we feel probably our people; family members would have survived if they had resources when it comes to medical care”.
Dr. Agyemang who is grateful to members of the team hopes the scope of the outreach could be extended to cover 1,0000 patients next year.
Reducing the Cataract and blindness burden
A survey conducted in 2005 by the Ghana Eye Foundation paints a gloomy picture of 800,000 Ghanaians being visually impaired.
Out of this, 200,000 are said to be completely blind from various causes, 75 per cent or more of which are avoidable.
Cataract alone accounts for 56 per cent of blindness in Ghana.
It is in view of this that the Ghana Health Service launched the National Cataract Outreach Programme to reduce Cataract burden. Though the programme has performed some surgeries in Bolgatanga and Cape Coast in the Upper East and Central Regions, respectively, care is yet to reach many Cataract patients.
For lack of funds, many patients are unable to afford treatment, resulting in total blindness.
Madam Adwoa Pinamang had travelled from Ejura with his father who was diagnosed with Cataract two years ago, to the Asamang S.D.A Hospital. For lack of funds, her 69-year-old father is unable to access care for months.
Thanks to the U.S team, her father has received care and could soon regain his sight.
Ophthalmologist, Dr. Vipul Prajapati, describes the situation where many Cataract patients are unable to access care due to lack of funds, as worrisome.
“If we are not going to operate such kind of bilateral cases, they may go permanently blind because they may develop complicated Cataract and thereafter, get Glaucoma and lose sight permanently.”
He wants government to pay special attention by supporting patients, mostly, the poor.
“If it is diagnosed at an early stage and if we operate at that stage, at least they can have a useful vision and have their sight back.”